Mesothelioma symptoms are so broad and vague, and develop over such a long period of time, they are mistaken for more common types of illnesses. Early diagnosis is the key to treatment success. With an early diagnosis, patients are also eligible for quick access to asbestos trusts that provide money for treatment.
The most common symptoms of all types of mesothelioma are dyspnea (shortness of breath), dry coughing or wheezing, difficulty breathing or other respiratory complications, chest or abdominal pains, pulmonary effusion (fluid in lungs), nausea and trouble swallowing. Other symptoms include unexplained weight loss, random fever and unexplained fatigue.
With such unremarkable warning signs and slow progression, mesothelioma typically is not diagnosed until later stages, making it difficult for most doctors to treat. Choosing the right mesothelioma specialist and treatment center may be the most important medical decision you must make. Compensation from asbestos trust funds gives patients the financial freedom they need to seek the best possible treatment.
Mesothelioma Cancer Types
Various types of asbestos cancers manifest in different ways:
- Pleural Mesothelioma – As the most common type of asbestos cancer, pleural mesothelioma has early symptoms that include chest pains, shortness of breath and fluid in the lungs. Later symptoms include a chronic cough and unexplained weight loss.
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma – cancer in the lining around the abdominal cavity produces symptoms that include abdominal distention, a continual feeling of fullness despite a loss of appetite and unexpected weight loss and bowel obstructions. Later symptoms include the onset of seizures and ascites, a buildup of fluids in the abdominal cavity.
- Pericardial Mesothelioma – When asbestos cancer attacks the lining that surrounds the heart, the symptoms are similar to those of pleural mesothelioma, including chest pains and difficulty breathing. There are limited treatment options due to the location of the disease.
- Testicular – A lump in the testes is the most recognizable and consistent symptom for this rare mesothelioma type. Testicular mesothelioma accounts for one percent of all asbestos cancer diagnoses.
Symptoms by Stage
The cancer stage at diagnosis is among the most important predictors of treatment outcome and will determine the type of treatment.
- Stage I – Mesothelioma tumors are centrally clustered and developed in a single layer. The most common symptoms in this stage are body aches, fever, chronic cough, chest pains and a build up of fluids in the lungs or abdominal cavity.
- Stage II – Mesothelioma tumors are still centrally clustered, but cancerous cells may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Patients have increased shortness of breath, increased coughing and unexplained weight loss. Patients often experience a build of fluid in the lungs (pleural effusion) or in the abdominal area (ascites).
- Stage III – The cancerous tumors have spread on one side of the body, throughout the chest cavity, lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart area and diaphragm. The classic symptoms of fever, a chronic and dry cough, chest pains and difficulty breathing are more pronounced at this stage. Tumors invading the chest walls increase chest pains and difficulty breathing.
- Stage IV – With cancerous tumors spread throughout the chest and abdominal cavity, patients experience increased pain, fever, night sweats, fluid accumulation in the chest and abdomen. Patients also experience cachexia anorexia, known as a wasting disorder that causes a dramatic loss of weight and bone mass.
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Doctors who do not commonly treat asbestos cancer frequently misdiagnose the disease as pneumonia or one of the many types of lung cancers. Such a misdiagnosis wastes time and money, two things that are most precious to anyone battling mesothelioma. Seeking funding from the appropriate asbestos trusts gives patients the flexibility they need to get the best possible care from a trained mesothelioma specialist.
Unlike other oncologists, mesothelioma specialists have researched, studied and treated mesothelioma patients. They are able to quickly diagnose the disease and use the most up-to-date treatment methods. This includes advanced clinical trials and groundbreaking regimens.
- American Cancer Society. Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignantmesothelioma/detailedguide/malignant-mesothelioma-signs-symptoms
- National Cancer Institute. Stages of Malignant Mesothelioma. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/types/mesothelioma/patient/mesothelioma-treatment-pdq#section/_26